I subscribe (I have no idea why) to a guy who occasionally posts some interesting things otherwise out of my orbit (oh, that’s why) and one of those things today was a link to Lance Armstrong’s podcast. Did you know he had a podcast? Did you know he still existed? Me neither.
I haven’t listened to a second of it yet and there’s a strong chance I won’t. Ok, I’ll likely listen to a bit of it because the person who sent me there says Armstrong “doesn’t give a shit.” Swoon. If you know me you know I love when people don’t give a shit. I want the true story of seven strangers picked to live in a house to see what happens when they stop being polite and start acting like the bag of cat anuses they really are. In this instance, just the one anus will do; LA’s anus. That sounded different then I meant it.
Then I came across this as the top review on iTunes.
Whoa. Hold the phone. Betrayed? Fraud? Cheated? Those are some sharp knives to be throwing at Armstrong and I think only one or two of them may be accurately placed. I think we should avoid “betrayed” as when has a celebrity ever been loyal to you? That’s your problem right there. You don’t have a relationship with these people. Move on.
But then I thought about it for a second and I realized why I was prone to jump to Lance’s defense. Not only did the man beat Stage 3 Cancer, but then when he was done with that he did the work necessary to win the most physically demanding competition on earth, not once, not twice, but seven god damned times. In a row. In (*clap) A (*clap) God (*clap) Damned (*clap) Row.*
If I got this news I would have rolled myself into a ball and died silently while sipping scotch between sobs. Sure, drugs are bad, mkay. But let’s not pretend this is a Popeye cartoon where Lance squeezed open a can of spinach and bench pressed a battleship. Lance had to train like the Taking of Pelham One Two Three in order to tea bag the rest of humanity with his one remaining – look, you know what I’m saying. The man was literally Superman – drugs or no drugs.
He gets credit for doing the impossible. And I truly mean impossible. Some 4,000 people have summited Everest. Not 1,000, not 3,000, but 4,000. Shout out to my boy Tenzing Norgay. Know how many have won seven Tour De France? Just one. And as a Stage 3 cancer survivor no less. This is an appropriate place to bow down. Give that man his propers.
For real though, I never owned a LiveStrong bracelet. Partly because I don’t like fads. But also because I don’t like fads. I understand that the person that wrote the review was likely heartbroken over the discovery (*insert photo of Taylor Swift’s shocked face here) that professional athletes engage in performance-enhancing drugs to stay on top. Emphasis on “enhancing,” please and thank you.
Maybe the person is bitter because they know in their heart of hearts that Armstrong has achieved more in a decade then they (and their children, and their children’s children) will ever accomplish in three lifetimes. That’s fair. But let’s not conveniently forget that despite the doping (which it’s widely been said everyone else was doing at the same time, so, even playing field?) this guy still dunked on all of our existences in the most complete way. That’s worthy of esteem.
Avant-Garde, modern-day philosopher-king, Malcolm Gladwell wrote this in regards the silliness of doping scandals. The main focus wasn’t even on drugs but on manipulating one’s own body by getting deep into the weeds of how to push the human machine to its absolute limit of performance. Removing your blood and putting it back into yourself before a race doesn’t seem immoral, does it? It’s your blood. It’s just a fascinating read and I urge you to follow the link and get your mind blown. Here’s a taste:
“Lance and Ferrari showed me there were more variables than I’d ever imagined, and they all mattered: wattages, cadence, intervals, zones, joules, lactic acid, and, of course, hematocrit,” Hamilton writes. “Each ride was a math problem: a precisely mapped set of numbers for us to hit. . . . It’s one thing to go ride for six hours. It’s another to ride for six hours following a program of wattages and cadences, especially when those wattages and cadences are set to push you to the ragged edge of your abilities.”
Hematocrit, the last of those variables, was the number they cared about most. It refers to the percentage of the body’s blood that is made up of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. The higher the hematocrit, the more endurance you have. (Mäntyranta had a very high hematocrit.) The paradox of endurance sports is that an athlete can never work as hard as he wants, because if he pushes himself too far his hematocrit will fall. Hamilton had a natural hematocrit of forty-two per cent—which is on the low end of normal. By the third week of the Tour de France, he would be at thirty-six per cent, which meant a six-per-cent decrease in his power—in the force he could apply to his pedals. In a sport where power differentials of a tenth of a per cent can be decisive, this “qualifies as a deal breaker.”
Bottom line, don’t hate on the GOAT because he broke some rules in pursuit of greatness. Just because you suddenly found yourself unable to wear your growing menagerie of LiveStrong bracelets doesn’t mean you should hate on the guy who inspired you to buy them in the first place.
*I really like clapping.